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  • News

    Ötzi loaded up on fatty food before he died

    Ötzi didn’t die hungry.

    Around 5,300 years ago, the Iceman dined on wild meat and grains before meeting his end in the Italian Alps. His last meal was high in fat and optimal for a high-altitude trek, researchers report July 12 in Current Biology.

    Since his mummified remains were discovered in 1991, Ötzi’s life has undergone more scrutiny than many reality TV stars. His cause of...

    07/12/2018 - 12:02 Archaeology, Genetics
  • News

    Cancer cells engineered with CRISPR slay their own kin

    Using gene editing, scientists have hoodwinked tumor cells into turning against their own kind.

    Cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream have something of a homing instinct, able to find and return to the tumor where they originated. To capitalize on that ability, researchers engineered these roving tumor cells to secrete a protein that triggers a death switch in resident tumor cells...

    07/11/2018 - 14:00 Cancer, Biomedicine, Genetics
  • Science Ticker

    North America’s earliest dogs came from Siberia

    North America’s first dogs arrived with humans who crossed a land bridge from Northeast Asia around 10,000 years ago or earlier, an analysis of ancient dogs’ DNA suggests.

    Those early American dogs derived from a Siberian ancestor, not North American wolves as some researchers have presumed, an international team reports in the July 6 Science. Genetic traces of ancient American dogs have...

    07/05/2018 - 14:12 Genetics, Anthropology, Animals
  • News

    This ‘junk’ gene may be important in embryo development

    A once-maligned genetic parasite may actually be essential for survival.

    Mouse embryos need that genetic freeloader — a type of jumping gene, or transposon, called LINE-1 — to continue developing past the two-cell stage, researchers report in the July 7 Cell.

    Many scientists “charge that these are nasty, selfish genetic elements” that jump around the genome, making mutations and...

    07/03/2018 - 07:00 Development, Cells, Genetics
  • News

    Koala genome may contain clues for helping the species survive

    Koalas have joined the menagerie of creatures with fully deciphered genetic instruction books, or genomes. A large team of researchers published the detailed look at the koala genome online July 2 in Nature Genetics.

    Why do we care? Lots of people love koalas. The iconic animal draws at least $1.1 billion in Australian dollars in tourism every year, according to the New South Wales...

    07/02/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Animals
  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35

    England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.

    Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ponder geothermal power and more

    What lies beneath

    Liquid pumped into the ground to generate geothermal power may have triggered a large earthquake that shook part of South Korea last November, Carolyn Gramling reported in “Pumping water underground for power may have triggered South Korean quake” (SN: 5/26/18, p. 8).

    Reader Elizabeth McDowell asked if there may be a link between geothermal power generation at a...

    06/27/2018 - 07:15 Genetics, Earth, Animals
  • News

    New studies add evidence to a possible link between Alzheimer’s and herpesvirus

    Joel Dudley and his colleagues were searching through datasets for Alzheimer’s disease vulnerabilities to exploit in creating a treatment when they stumbled across a surprising correlation: Many of the brains they looked at had signs of herpesvirus infection. But those from people with Alzheimer’s disease had much higher levels of viral DNA than those from healthy people.

    In particular,...

    06/22/2018 - 06:00 Health, Neuroscience, Genetics
  • Experiences

    What I actually learned about my family after trying 5 DNA ancestry tests

    Commercials abound for DNA testing services that will help you learn where your ancestors came from or connect you with relatives. I’ve been interested in my family history for a long time. I knew basically where our roots were: the British Isles, Germany and Hungary. But the ads tempted me to dive deeper.

    Previous experience taught me that different genetic testing companies can yield...

    06/13/2018 - 14:41 Ancestry, Genetics
  • Feature

    DNA testing can bring families together, but gives mixed answers on ethnicity

    Michael Douglas, a new resident of southern Maryland, credits genetic testing for helping him find his heritage — and a family he knew very little about.

    Douglas, 43, is adopted. He knew his birth mother’s name and had seen a birth certificate stating his birth name: Thomas Michael McCarthy. Over the years, Douglas had tried off and on to find his birth family, mostly by looking for his...

    06/13/2018 - 14:36 Genetics, Ancestry, Science & Society